Photo Courtesy: Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
VICTORIA, Minn. (KMSP) - Crews removed about 2,000 pounds of invasive common carp from a lake in Victoria, Minnesota Friday as a part of a 10-year project to improve the habitat in the Lake Minnetonka headwaters.
Friday marked the beginning of the first round of carp removals in the area, starting with Steiger Lake, according to officials with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Common carp can damage the lakes by uprooting plants, which stirs up the lake bottoms leading to algae blooms.
“They’re crowding out other fish for food, and upsetting the balance of the lake,” said Telly Mamayek of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. "Many carp live for decades and they reproduce very quickly, they produce millions of eggs a year, and so they are overtaking many of the water systems.”
A $567,000 grant is funding the effort as a way to improve the water quality and conditions for the native fish and fowl. In addition to removing carp, crews will also put radio tags on some carp in order to track movement and population. It is all part of a carp management plan created by the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.
The plan involves crews setting up barriers to contain the carp population and prevent the fish from moving in and out of Wasserman Lake, Crown College Pond and Mud Lake. The barriers will keep the carp from returning to their spawning areas.
MCWD crews will also set up aeration units at Marsh, Sunny, North Lundsten, South Lundsten and Mud Lakes to keep oxygen levels up during the winter. The hope is the aeration will help the bluegill sunfish population, which can then eat the carp eggs in the spring.
By the end they hope to remove 8,000 pounds from Steiger Lake alone. There are 14 lakes within the watershed.
“Halsted Bay alone has about 60,000 carp, which is astounding,” said Mamayek. “It’s an overabundance, and it’s a number our researches had not really seen before.”
The carp that are caught are being donated to the U of M Wildlife Center for feed for wolves.
MCWD is working with the Three Rivers Park District, Hennepin County, Carver County, the City of Victoria, the Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay Subwatershed Partnership and more to complete the project.